"Two thousand one is a year that brought big quantity and big quality," says Giorgio Pelissero, who considers this to be a very important vintage. "We had conditions similar to those of 1999, but the producers in this area are just getting better, so the wines are better too. We enjoyed some rain in August, then a very good September, and the grapes were very clean. "Pelissero is a forward-thinking producer who also spends a lot of time in his vines. His wines have more personality than many other New Wave examples. (Vinifera Imports, Ronkonkoma, NY)
($15; done entirely in stainless steel) Good deep ruby-red. Fresh, somewhat tanky aromas of black cherry and licorice. Juicy and on the lean side, with notes of violet and black licorice. A bit skinny for the vintage, and quite dry. Could use a bit more flesh to support its tannins.
(14% alcohol) Ruby-red. Liqueur-like aromas of kirsch, blackberry and violet; more exotic than the Munfrina. Then bright, minerally and sharply defined, with lovely inner-mouth violety perfume. Finishes long and aromatic, with fine tannins, a strong licorice flavor and considerable power for dolcetto. The wine's firm acids currently hide its full alcohol.
($20) Bright ruby. Lively aromas of dark berry liqueur, violet, licorice, bitter chocolate and minerals, with a faint gaminess adding complexity. The liqueur-like quality carries through on the palate, but the wine's strong acids give it shape and grip. Finishes juicy, oaky and persistent. Aged in a combination of barriques, partly new, and large casks.
($28) Good full red. Musky aromas of candied red berries and roast coffee. Sweet, fat and layered, with liqueur-like ripeness buffered by ripe but serious and chewy tannins. Distinctly chocolatey on the back end, and a tad dry.
($46; a 50/50 blend of barbera and nebbiolo) Saturated medium ruby. International nose features cassis, crushed blackberry, cola, mocha, bitter chocolate and mint. Sweet and fresh; not particularly fleshy but boasts fairly intense cassis and blackberry fruit and solid framing acidity. A minty nuance contributes to the wine's juiciness. Finishes firmly tannic and a tad dry. Offers a lot of flavor for a wine from this vintage.
($50; the barbera and nebbiolo components of this cuvee are separately aged for 15 to 18 months in new Taransaud and Vicard barriques before being blended) Bright, saturated medium ruby. Pungent aromas of blackberry, bitter chocolate, licorice and spicy oak; reminded me of a California cult wine. Impressively glyceral, deep and sweet, but with a firm spine of acidity. Large-scaled, dense and concentrated wine, with flavors of black fruits, graphite, dried herbs and licorice. Finishes juicy and quite tannic. A superb modern-style wine from Piemonte; long on personality.
(this includes all of Pelissero's best Barbaresco fruit in 2002) Deep red. Aromas of red fruits, smoke, earth, mint and baking spices; slight suggestion of stewed fruit. Supple and fairly broad on entry, then a bit dry toward the back, with the tannins dusting the front teeth. Still, this seems rather fruity and open for young Barbaresco.
($34; aged almost entirely in larger barrels) Medium red. Aromatic nose of roast coffee, sassafras, mace and animal fur. Then sweet, lush and succulent, with nicely integrated acids. Juicy flavors of cola and mace. Much suaver on the back end than the '02, finishing with building but considerably sweeter tannins. This is the first year for this bottling, combining younger vines from Piani and Argenta, which Pelissero describes as sites favoring barbera and dolcetto. Pelissero's young vines from his other Barbaresco vineyard normally go into his nebbiolo bottling.
($46; this is Pelissero's new name for the wine previously labeled as normale; from a single vineyard next to Pelissero's house, in Treiso) Medium red. Roasted red fruits, cola, sandalwood and allspice on the nose, with a porty suggestion of prune. Fat, broad and superripe, with Chateauneuf-like flavors of roasted red fruits and dried herbs. Full of fruit but not at all overly sweet. Finishes with substantial round tannins and very good length. Pelissero says the sandalwood quality is like "a browner version of eucalyptus," and is part of the site's distinctive soil character. (Interestingly, the 2000 showed a strong eucalyptus quality, suggesting that the fruit was less thoroughly ripe.) Intriguing wine in a distinctly plump style.
($75; this spends 22 months in all new barriques, whereas the Tulin is aged in mostly larger foudres Full medium red. Mellow aromas of redcurrant, truffle, earth, mocha, cola and woodsmoke, with captivating suggestions of iron, minerals, sage and rosemary. Lush on entry, then tighter and more bound-up in the mid-palate than the Tulin, with more obvious inner-mouth energy. Juicy, slightly minty wine, finishing with firm but fine tannins that will need six to eight years of patience. A distinctly modern-style wine from chalk-rich soil. This could hardly be more different from the Tulin today.